Brain specialists first in Europe to perform scans and surgery at bedside

Brain specialists at Southampton's university hospitals are the first in Europe to provide life-saving resuscitation, imaging and surgery at patients' bedsides.

Clinicians on the neurointensive care unit (NICU) at Southampton General Hospital have called the development a “major milestone” in the treatment of critically ill and injured patients that could “transform” clinical practice.

It has been made possible through the use of a new £150,000 portable CT scanner – donated by fundraising group Percy’s Pals – which enables doctors to scan patients on the unit rather than transport them across hospital to an imaging suite.

Neurosurgeons can then perform an emergency image-guided procedure, known as an external ventricular drain, at the same time to release fluid from the brain and reduce pressure on the skull.

Previously, patients had to be transferred to a scanner by three members of staff – a consultant, medical technician and nurse – for imaging, then taken to theatre if they required a ventricular drain or other emergency surgery.

The NICU covers a population of three million people from across the South of England and the Channel Islands and treats a variety of conditions, including bleeding on brain caused by stroke and traumatic brain injuries as a result of road accidents, sport or falls.

“Timing is everything when it comes to neurological conditions and any deterioration needs to be diagnosed as quickly as possible so pressure can be taken off of the brain rapidly to give a patient the best possible chance of a good recovery,” explained Dr Roger Lightfoot, director of the NICU at Southampton General.

“The portable CT scanner not only enables instant imaging, it means we no longer have to move critically ill patients away from the safety of the intensive care unit and we can perform emergency procedures at the bedside – it really is a major milestone in neurointensive care treatment.”

Percy's Pals, which is a fund of Southampton Hospital Charity, was set up in memory of Dr Richard ‘Percy’ Percival, a GP from Hedge End in Southampton who died from a stroke in 2013 aged 47.

The group, along with former patient Sophie Wilkinson, who has raised £25,000 with her family and friends, will officially present the equipment to Dr Lightfoot and his team at a ceremony today (Friday) at 3pm.

Tim Smith, a close friend of Richard who helped to form Percy's Pals, said: “Percy cared deeply about the welfare of others and dedicated his professional life to helping the sick.

“He would have wanted his name and death to be a catalyst for good in the community and I speak on behalf of everyone associated with Percy's Pals when I say how amazing it feels to be part of such a revolutionary development.”

Dr Lightfoot added: “We cannot thank Percy's Pals enough for what they have done for our unit and for the advancement of clinical care in neurosciences.

“We look forward to celebrating this fantastic achievement with them and, following that, helping to share our practice across Europe to ensure more units and patients can benefit from this unique package of care at the bedside.”

To find out more about Percy’s Pals and how to support the group, visit

Posted on Friday 26 February 2016